Making fitness and health a habit

I’ll be the first person to admit that I do not like working out. Despite all those endorphins they say make you happy and the fact that I was pretty active when I was younger, going to the gym takes major effort and a lot of talking myself into how important it is.

Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live in. (fitness quote)

I’m trying to remember this and make fitness more of a habit.

One of the parts of my happiness project is to make fitness and health a habit. It’s no secret that getting in regular exercise and eating better pays off in the long term, both for your health and for your attitude. My goal is to make it a habit now, so as I get older, it becomes a regular part of life.

So for this year, I have resolved to:

  • Take a fitness class once a month
  • Go to the gym an average of 3 times per week (12 per month)
  • Don’t buy lunch out more than once per week
  • Don’t buy dinner out more than once per week
  • Eat a salad once per week
  • Drink 32 ounces of water per day

I took my first class this week – a “butts and guts” type workout – and it was fun to workout with other people, instead of just by myself. I think I’m definitely going to keep doing that in the future. I got to 10 trips to the gym in January and I’m currently at 6 in February, with just over a week to go. It will take a lot for me to meet the goal this month, but I’m going to try. One thing I’m finding makes it easier is to have something in my workout that makes me feel strong. For example, this month I did a benchpress for the first time and got to pressing 65 pounds and then I did deadlifts for the first time and lifted 100 pounds. It’s nice to feel like a beast every now and again 🙂

I think going out to eat a lot (which we’re really guilty of) is a gateway to unhealthy eating, which is why one of my goals is to eat out no more than twice a week – once for lunch and once for dinner (which will also help my bank account!). This is actually going really well so far. One of the things that’s helped is putting more focus on meal planning and grocery shopping at home. If you actually like what you’re eating and have everything to make it, it’s that much simpler to stay in and cook.

I’m still working on eating more salads and drinking more water. Not that salad is the only healthy food, but it’s usually better than what I make, so I’m trying to work at least one salad into a meal a week. Water’s not usually my drink of choice, but I think drinking more is a good thing to do (especially during these dry Minnesota winters), so I’ve got a 32 ounce water bottle that sits with me that I’m trying to get through once a day.

I’m still trying to do all of these consistently, but I have been getting better, which I can tell is already helping my happiness!

What type of healthy habits do you try to include in your daily routine? Any suggestions to make my goals easier?

Happiness is up to me

I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last year thinking about happiness. What makes people — and, in particular, me — happy? What doesn’t? How can we do more of the former and less of the latter? And how does personal happiness affect career and relationship success?

A couple months ago, I read “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin, in which she tries to tackle these exact questions, in way everyone can relate to. As she documents in the book, Gretchen took a year and identified those behaviors which can impact happiness — which she picks based on a mix of research and personal experience — and tries to increase the frequency of those actions in her life. For her, they were things like organizing the house, singing in the morning, taking more pictures of her kids and doing things she finds fun. It’s a great read and I definitely recommend it to anyone looking to pick up a new book.

So, for 2014, I’ve decided to embark on my own “happiness project”. I’ve come up with a list of things I think will positively impact my personal happiness, as well as a list of three guiding principles. It’s my goal to work away at this list throughout the year to hopefully keep making a better version of me, which should also improve my job and my relationships with family and friends.

So what are my guiding principles? No matter which project I’m working on, these are the things I’m trying to stick to:

    1. Do it when you think about it.
    2. Smile more.
    3. Act the way you want to feel.

And the projects? I’ll talk about the full list in future posts, but in general they fall into these broad categories:

    • Make fitness and health a habit.
    • Increase work productivity.
    • Have more fun.
    • Get the little things out of the way.
    • Build/strengthen personal connections.
    • Make time for me.
    • Think about others.

I’ve already started learning that not everything on my list is going to be easy to accomplish, but I do think it’s all going to be worth it.

So, here’s to a year of putting happiness in my own hands!

What things do you focus on to improve happiness? What impact does improved happiness have on your life? I would love to hear about it in the comments.